Center for Interfaith Cooperation’s Board Members
David Shaheed became the judge in Civil Court 1 in August, 2007. Prior to this assignment, Shaheed presided over Criminal Court 14, the Drug Treatment Diversion Court and Reentry Court. The Indiana Correctional Association chose Shaheed as 2007 Judge of the Year for his work with ex-offenders and defendants trying to recover from substance abuse.
Shaheed was a judicial officer in the Marion County Superior Court beginning in 1994 starting as a master commissioner and being appointed judge by Governor Frank O’Bannon in September 1999. Shaheed has also worked as an attorney for the State of Indiana and a chief administrative law judge.
Shaheed was on the board of directors for Seeds of Hope, (a shelter for women in recovery), former vice-president of the Indiana Juvenile Justice Task and President of the Interfaith Alliance of Indianapolis and current board member of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation.
Sonal Sanghani is with the Jain Center of Central Indiana.
Being raised in the largest democracy in the world was around multiple religions. I have seen multiple religions coexisting peacefully in India. Only way to grow personally and our community is through education, interaction and understanding of multiple faiths around us.
Dr Sonal Sanghani received her Ph. D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Mumbai. She pursued her postdoctoral training at Medical college of Virginia and then at Indiana University School of Medicine. As Asst. Prof. at Indiana University School of Medicine her research was focused on Cancer Research and liver fibrosis. As she established herself at the Indiana University School of Medicine, she became the Director of the Biotechnology Training Program. In order to grow as a scientist, Sonal joined Sensient Technologies as R&D manager where she achieved the rank of R&D Director. Throughout her career, Sonal has authored approximately 20 peer reviewed articles.
Her favorite quote:
|अहिंसा परमो धर्मः
धर्म हिंसा तथीव च
|Ahimsa Paramo Dharma
Dharma himsa tathaiva cha
|Non-violence is the ultimate religion|
María Pimentel-Gannon is an author and humanitarian. She is Founder of Necessary Ingredients for a Simple Existence (N.I.S.E.). She is the author of Necessary Ingredients for a Simple Existence: A N.I.S.E. Book. She says:
When all is said and done, I want to live my life in such a way that when I am called to my eternal home, the Lord will say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To this end, it is my humble desire to live my life in service to the Lord and for the good of others, to make a difference in their lives, to help them fully become the person who God created them to be, and to do all of this with great love.
In addition to serving on the board of CIC, María serves on the boards of the Immigrant Welcome Center, Cardinal Ritter Schools, West Deanery Unified Catholic Schools, St. Michael St. Gabriel elementary School, and many other organizations.
Jane grew up in Huntingburg, a small homogeneous town in Southern Indiana as a Roman Catholic. She considers herself blessed that her career and her personal interests gravitated to international affairs. She held the position as International Vice President for a marketing research firm for more than 10 years before becoming the Director of International & Cultural Affairs for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. She has traveled to more than 80 countries. She is passionate about the diversity of our city and state and focuses her work and personal life making business, government and our community more welcoming, educated and empowered to be effective in the global economy.
Why is interfaith important?:
Today Indiana is a global community with a very diverse population. With this diversity comes a broad sector of religions beliefs. Interfaith learning is exciting as it provides an opportunity educate ourselves and celebrate with our neighbors the wonderful characteristics that make us different, yet come together in unity to share our commonalities.
Be the change that you want to see in the world – Mahatma Ghandi
God, grant me Serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to know the difference. – Reinhold Niebuhr
Brian was born and raised in Marion, Indiana, where he attended Marion High School. He played sports and sang in a school choir. Brian met his wife Jennifer during high school at church.
Both Brian and Jennifer attended Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. After considering a math major, Brian received a Bachelor of Arts in Christian education and a certificate in youth ministries. While at Taylor, Brian and Jennifer served as the youth ministers at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Marion. The couple married in December 1987 at College Wesleyan Church, with Brian’s grandfather presiding.
The Shivers live in Washington Township with their wonderful teenage daughter, their chocolate lab, and tuxedo cat. Brian has an older brother and sister, both of whom live in the Indianapolis area.
Tony Wiederhold is an Indiana-born social activist and Zen practitioner who walked away from a 16-year long pharmaceutical manufacturing career to devote more time to making it easier for people to relate with each other and help each other. He founded Indy Community Yoga, a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to do just that. He enjoys demystifying things for people so that they might harm less and help more, whether that be by knowing when they are holding tension in their body, becoming a more patient listener, or baking a loaf of bread.
Learn more about Tony in an interview for the Dynamics of Interfaith podcast or in this published interview on thriveglobal.com.
Indy Community Yoga is an Indianapolis-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization that exists to make it easier for people to heal together, hear each other, and work together toward a just, kind, and cooperative world for everyone. We offer high quality group yoga, meditation, and relational mindfulness practices at no charge and organize regular, recurring group volunteer shifts to address access to healthy food and voting rights in our community. Please check out what we have to offer on Facebook and Instagram (@indycommunityyoga) as well as our website indycommunityyoga.org.
Anita Joshi MD has been an Indiana resident since 1998. She was born and raised in New Jersey and attended University of Connecticut Medical School; where she met her husband Arun Jain of 23 years. Dr. Joshi currently practices general pediatrics in Crawfordsville IN. She has been active on the board of trustees at the Orchard School, where she chaired the Diversity Committee for 3 years. She has served on the founding board of the Riley Women’s Fund and currently serves on the board of trustees of the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana and on the Diversity Committee at Brebeuf Jesuit High School.
Anita has been an active member of the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana for the past 8 years. She has been involved in the youth group program since that time first as a volunteer and for the last 4 years as a teacher. She teaches the middle school students and has been developing connections between the youth in the Jain and Hindu communities. She has also given presentations and conducted many tours of the temple for non-Hindu children and adults to try and expand their understanding of Hinduism. Having been born and raised in the US, Anita has a deep personal understanding of the experiences Hindu children face growing up balancing two cultures.
Why is interfaith important?
I have attended many events sponsored by the CIC including the Festival of Faith for the last 3 years with the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana, and have had an interest in becoming more active in the organization for quite some time. I believe that CIC represents what is best about Indiana and us as human beings. There is more that brings us together than would ever separate us. In this time of great change, an organization like CIC is a beacon of hope. It’s mission of peace through understanding of multiple faith traditions, acceptance of diversity and celebration of each of us as individuals and as part of a collective community deeply resonates with me.
One of my favorite prayers and one that I recite with my students before each class is
Om Saha Nau-Avatu |
Saha Nau Bhunaktu |
Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai |
Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
1: Om, May God Protect us Both (the Teacher and the Student),
2: May God Nourish us Both,
3: May we Work Together with Energy and Vigor,
4: May our Study be Enlightening and not give rise to Hostility,
5: Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
Imam Alamine was born in Saudi Arabia to African parents. He speaks fluently Arabic, English, and some French in addition to several African languages. He earned his BA in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Niger, MA in Islamic Banking and Finance from the Yarmouk University of Jordan, and MBA from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. He currently occupies the position of Imam and Director of Religious Program at the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association, the first Muslim community and full time Islamic School in Indianapolis. His interests are: Building healthy communities, promoting peace and coexistence between people, Contemporary Islamic topics, youth empowerment, Civic Engagement. He is also interested in exploring and promoting fitness and healthy nutrition. He appreciates diversity!
Dr. Halima Al-Khattab is president of the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association. Dr. Al-Khattab is skilled in nonprofit management, mental health, community-based participatory research, clinical nursing science, community outreach/education, adolescent health, qualitative methods, and health disparities. She is a strong research professional with post-graduate certificates in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner across the lifespan and Health Innovation and Implementation.
Virgil I. Boyd, Jr. has been Food Service Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Salesman, and Mortgage Broker. He has a passion for history and a commitment to voluneerism. Virgil is committed to interfaith because it gives an opportunity to share in belief systems, but not let anything divide us. Virgil’s favorite story is from Jonah 4:5-11. Jonah was being given a task, to give a message to save the nation of Nineveh. Jonah lost his human element of love, then he found compassion after the bottle-gourd tree dried up.
Some of Virgil’s favorite quotes:“
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”. MLK
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time” Thomas Merton’
“We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are” Thomas Merton
Why Interfaith? Our diversity of religions is integral to the diversity of our nation, indeed of humanity. If our religions lead the way together to recognize our inter-connectedness through our life journey, then we shall enjoy our diversity even as we serve peacefully and justly our shared humanity and longing for God.
Native Hoosier, Indianapolis born. 1950. One of seven children. Grew up in a mixed racial and religious neighborhood. Educated: St. Andrew Grade School, the Latin School of Indianapolis, St. Meinrad College and School of Theology, St. Mary-of-the-Woods External Degree Program, Mount St. Mary-of-the-West Seminary, University of Notre Dame. Ordained a priest May 21, 1983. Have served in parishes: St. Paul, Tell City; St. Mary, Richmond; St. Margaret Mary and St. Patrick, Terre Haute; Little Flower, SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Our Lady of Lourdes, Indianapolis. Served as Director of Liturgy for the Archdiocese 1993 – 2005. Have served on various local boards (YMCA, Richmond; Terre Haute Ministries (ecumenical), Terre Haute; Near Northside Development Corporation, Indianapolis) and national boards (Cathedral Ministries, Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers); have been a member of National Association of Pastoral Musicians, Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions; and served on the Council of Priests, Priests Personnel Board and College of Deans of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. B.A. in History, M.A. in Scripture, M.A. in Liturgical Theology.
Favorite quote: Psalm 63:2-9
Deus, Deus meus
2 O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
3 So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
4 For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
5 So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
6 My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.
7 On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
8 for your have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
9 My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.
Hamilton was elected to the Indiana State Legislature in 2016 to represent Indy’s north side, House District 87. Carey is also a nonprofit executive and has worked in the environmental field for 20+ years. During that time, she has managed several policy development initiatives and public outreach programs.
As the Executive Director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition (2008-2018), Carey more than tripled the organization’s budget which allowed the IRC to grow its staff and better serve its mission. Under Carey’s leadership the IRC brought together an industry stakeholder group which sought to find common ground to advance recycling in Indiana. This IRC-led industry coalition effectively advocated for new recycling funding and policies during the 2009, 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions.
From 1995-2000, Carey spearheaded the State of Indiana Partners for Clean Air Program, directed the State of Indiana Recycling Program and led the development of Indiana’s Greening the Government Program.
From 2001-2003, she worked as the Energy Projects Manager for the City of San Jose, California, and from 2003-2008, Carey led her own environmental consulting and policy advocacy firm.
Carey has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. She served as Co-Chair of Environmental Programs for the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, she is a former board member of both Keep America Beautiful and the National Recycling Coalition, a 2011 graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Program, a 2013 graduate of the Institute for Conservation Leadership, a board member of the Washington Township Schools Foundation and was named one of Forty Under 40 up-and-coming leaders in 2010 by the Indianapolis Business Journal.
Carey is married with two teenage boys and one sweet but wild rescue dog. Carey likes to run, garden, go on long walks with her family, read and travel in her spare time. She and her family are active members of All Souls Unitarian Church.
Carey’s Interfaith Work
I believe in the power of interfaith work to affect positive change in the world. As a professional coalition builder, I have seen how different voices coming together for a shared purpose enhance those individual voices, leading to a greater positive impact in the community. At the Statehouse, I have seen firsthand the value of the interfaith community as it weighs in on issues such as hate crimes and predatory lending.
In addition, after a recent trip to Israel, I am renewed in my desire to help foster interfaith understanding and relationships in our community. The work of dialogue and relationship amongst faiths is an essential part of a peaceful and thriving community.
Why Interfaith? I have been a part of the ecumenical movement among Christians for many decades, but I have increasingly seen the importance of building relationships across religious boundaries as we live together in a truly global world. Though the particulars of our faiths differ, our core values are nearly universal. I believe God desires all people to work together for the sake of true community and justice.
Background: I have been a Disciples minister for more than 50 years. I have served as a congregational pastor, as head of my denomination, on ecumenical councils (National and World), as executive for a Christian ecumenical organization (Christian Churches Together in the USA), and as an affiliate professor and trustee of Christian Theological Seminary (of which I am an alumnus – also a Butler graduate). I travel frequently to Pakistan as part of a bridge building program (U.S. Pakistan Interreligious Coalition – UPIC). I serve as a member of the leadership team for Bread For The World in Indiana. Recently I served as interim Vice President for Advancement at Christian Theological Seminary.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Patricia Holman is Staff Chaplain of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Holman was a police officer for 32 years — and was retired for three years — before she stepped into her role as chaplain in June. She became a police officer in 1979. She didn’t set out to break barriers and climb the ranks, though she did. Holman in 2002 rose to be the first African-American female captain at the Indianapolis Police Department.
Her beginning goals were simple, though. Growing up on the city’s west side, she admired a police officer who worked with kids at a neighborhood community center. She was one of them. So Holman decided she wanted to be a police officer to work with children.
Ruth Ellen Homer is a fifth generation Latter-day Saint, and has raised two more generations with her kids and grandkids. Since her marriage to John Homer forty years ago, she has spent at least two hours every single day studying scriptures and the history of the Church. Born in Salt Lake City, she has lived in Indiana since 1972.
I grew up in Noblesville, Indiana, and have lived in central Indiana all my life. I met my wife Marcia in 1972 when we were freshman in college and we have been together ever since – 47 years and counting! We have three adult children and four grandchildren. I have practiced environmental law in Indianapolis with Barnes & Thornburg since 1982. When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do is to spend time with our children and grandchildren. My hobbies include gardening, exercise, being outdoors, spending time at our lake house in northern Michigan, traveling, playing golf, watching sports, cooking, and enjoying good food and wine.
As relates to my interest in CIC: In 2016, I published a children’s book called Daddy, Where do the Stars come from? The book describes a conversation between parents and their children in which the parents try to answer the children’s questions like – “Where do the stars come from? How did life begin? What happens to us when we die? Why do we have so many religions?” The parents try to teach their children that religions seek to answer these hard questions of life, and to teach us how we are supposed to coexist with other people on this planet. The central theme of the book is that all religions deserve respect. I shared a draft of the book with Don Knebel (whose comments and insights were greatly appreciated) and I suspect Don had something to do with CIC considering me for the board!
I am humbled to have been asked to serve on the CIC Board, and look forward to learning from this impressive group of devoted people.
Rev. Lynn Martin is an Associate Minister at Light of the World Christian Church, where she is the Chief Operating Officer. She teaches Sunday school and serves in a number of ministries including the LWCC Prison Ministry. She is also the owner of Amaze Me Inc., a successful catering company serving Indianapolis and surrounding counties for the past fifteen years.
Her heart for service is evident in her commitment to meeting the needs of those who live at the margins of society both in her business and her ministry. Her work in the community with the homeless population, women issues and prison re-entry is reflective of her passion for serving “the least of these.” Lynn is the proud mother of two daughters and has three granddaughters.
Lynn was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN. She received a B.S. in Business Management from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. After completing her degree she continued a banking career of over 25 years, attaining the position of Vice President of Community Development. As a bank officer, she served on many community and civic boards throughout the city of Indianapolis. Lynn was a member and served as a lay leader in various positions at Riverside Park United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. She was ordained as a Deacon at Progressive Baptist Church. After accepting her call in 2009 she began training in the Ministers in Training Program (MIT) at Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis. Lynn enrolled in seminary and completed her Master of Divinity in 2015 at Christian Theological Seminary, and currently serves on the Alumni Board and more recently was elected to serve as a trustee on the CTS board.
Chris Melton attends Second Presbyterian Church and volunteers closely with St. Luke’s Methodist Church. She co-chaired for 8 years the partnership between Second Presbyterian and Red Cross for purposes of disaster sheltering.
Chris has two favorite quotes:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
— Nelson Mandela
“The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
After completing my undergraduate education in biochemistry and religious studies at Willamette University in Salem, OR, I moved to New Jersey to teach science at Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark Public. I was a member of Teach For America’s Newark Corps and taught for three years. Following teaching I got my Masters of Divinity at Yale Divinity School and explored various avenues of faith leadership, including hospital and university chaplaincy. After graduation, I was ordained in the United Church of Christ and served as the Earl Hall Religious Life Fellow in the Office of the University Chaplain at Columbia University, engaging interfaith programming, pastoral care, and various aspects of chaplaincy. Upon completing this fellowship, I came to Butler University as the director for the Center for Faith and Vocation. My background has roots in the intersection of science and faith, I have experience in teaching and community work, I identify as a chaplain, and love to hike, climb, backpack, ski and generally be outside!
Why is interfaith important?
Interfaith work is important to me because it simultaneously demands me to know a great deal about my own faith identity while learning and gaining awareness of those who come from different faith perspectives and communities. It develops the self and fosters relationship and understanding, both of which I think are necessary for effective and thoughtful leadership for our day. Additionally, my own family has connections to multiple faith traditions and so it has always been important to me to do the theological work and make the relational efforts necessary to see the value in faith diversity and building understanding across traditions. Interfaith community is part of my own story and I perceive it to be a central component of the work I hope to be part of as ordained clergy in the United Church of Christ.
Chirjeev says interfaith is important because it provides a platform which gives the individuals an opportunity to deepen understanding of other faiths and traditions, sensitively appreciate other faiths, and build bridges so that each of us can uplift ourselves and the humanity as a whole.
Her favorite quotes:
Realization of truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living ~ Guru Nanak (Founder of Sikhism)
“Fear I none, frighten I none” – He alone is a divinely enlightened person who is not afraid of anyone and who does dot frighten anyone – Guru Teg Bahadur
Nina Price is the Director of Jewish Education Initiatives at the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis. She is originally from San Jose, CA, and now lives in Carmel with her husband Jeremy, son Eitan, and daughter Aleeza. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley; an MAJE (Master of Arts in Jewish Education) from Hebrew Union College in L.A.; and an M.Ed. in Special Education from Fairmont State University (Fairmont, WV). Nina has lived in diverse communities, each of which provided her with unique Jewish experiences ranging from Israel and Jewish summer camps to being the only Jewish staff member in a variety of public school settings. She looks forward to bringing these varied experiences, both Jewish and professional, to her work as a member of the CIC Board.
Eyas Raddad served on the board of the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association from 2010 to 2012, and again from 2015 to 2017, when he served as the president. He led the organization through a difficult turnaround after turmoil that affected the organization. He is a regular strategist and donor to many nonprofit organizations in the Indianapolis area. He is a founding member of the Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network, and serves on its board.
Eyas is a seasoned drug discovery and development researcher, strategist, innovator and philanthropist. Since he joined Eli Lilly and Company in 2001, he applied sophisticated data analytics and strategic frameworks to improve decision making in drug discovery and development process. He recently established and led Research Decision Analytics function in Lilly Research Laboratories, with a mission that includes portfolio management, decision consulting and decision education.
Eli Lilly and Company
Global Statistical Sciences and Advanced Analytics
Born and raised in India. I came to United States for my higher education in Fall of 1988. I received my PhD in Statistics from University of California, Riverside in 1993 and joined Lilly in Jan of 1994. I have been married for 25+ years and a mother of 2 lovely boys (18 and 16 years of age). My husband’s name is Shreyas Shah and my boys are Kushal and Neil Shah.
Why is interfaith important?
The thread that connects us all together is what is imbedded in our respective faiths and at the very core the various faiths have the following in common – they teach us to love, kindness, peace and universal friendship for all living beings. Only through open dialogue, listening to each other with open minds and respecting each other’s beliefs can we bring peace and harmony in the communities we live and in this world. There is lots to learn from each other and there is more in common than we think and hence interfaith is important to me.
Favorite quote (sacred text, story, poem, other):
“Khamemi savvajive, savve jiva khamantu me |
Mitti me savva bhuesu, veram majjham na kenai ||”
I forgive all living beings,
May all living beings grant me forgiveness.
My friendship is with all living beings,
I have no hatred towards anybody.
Poem: Universal Song of Friendship
|Song (in Gujarati, Indian Language)||English Translation|
|Maitri Bhavanu Pavitra Zaranu,
Muj Haiya Ma Vahya Kare,
Shubh Thao Aa Sakal Vishvanu,
Evi Bhavana Nitya Rahe.Gunathi Bharela Gunijana Dekhi,
Haiyu Maru Nrutya Kare,
A Santo Na Charan Kamal Ma,
Muj Jivan No Ardhaya Rahe.Din Krur Ne Dharma Vihona,
Dekhi Dilma Dard Rahe,
Karuna Bhini Ankho Mathi,
Ashruno Shubh Shrot Vahe.Marg Bhulela Jivan Pathik Ne,
Marg Chindhava Ubho Rahu,
Kare Upexa A Marag Ni,
To Ye Samata Chitt Dharu.Chitrabhanuni Dharma Bhavana,
Haiye Sau Manav Lave,
Ver Zer Na Paap Taji Ne,
Mangal Geeto Sau Gave.
|May the sacred stream of amity
Flow forever in my heart.
May the universe prosper,
Such is my cherished desire.May my heart sing with ecstasy
At the sight of the virtuous.
May my life be
An offering at their feet.May my heart bleed at the sight of
The wretched, the cruel, the irreligious.
May tears of compassion
Flow from my eyes.May I always be there to show the path
To the pathless wanderers of life.
Yet if they should not hearken to me,
May I bide in patience.May the spirit of goodwill
Enter all our hearts.
May we all sing in chorus
The immortal song of human concord
Fr. William (Bill) Verbryke, S.J. is the 12th president of Brebeuf Jesuit School. As a Jesuit and in life, values community and connecting with others. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Fr. Bill accompanied his father, an internal medicine physician, on house calls, which he says was foundational in building a life of service.
Fr. Bill joined the Jesuit Candidates program while attending the University of Cincinnati and entered the Society of Jesus in 1973. He was ordained to the Jesuit Priesthood in 1983. This journey included serving as a faculty member at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois; obtaining his Masters in Divinity and Theology at Berkeley; serving as the Director of Vocations for the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus and returning to his alma mater, St. Xavier High School, where he served as President for 10 years. Following his service to St. Xavier, he then served as Director of Novices in Detroit for eight years before returning Cincinnati to serve as the Rector of the Jesuit Community.
Ala’a Wafa is currently Associate Counsel in the Legal Department at Cummins Inc. in their Indianapolis office. She also currently serves on the board of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation. Ala’a received her bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Political Science and International Relations. After completing her bachelors, Ala’a worked as a Staff Assistant, and later Legislative Correspondent, for U.S. Senator Russ Feingold in Washington, D.C. She then pursued her law degree from Michigan State University-College of Law, with a concentration in International and Comparative Law, before joining Cummins.
Ala’a is involved in interfaith work and presents in the central Indiana area on interfaith topics. She was published in the book “I Speak For Myself,” a collection of essays whose goal is to dismantle stereotypes of what it means to be a Muslim woman in America.
Why is interfaith important?
I grew up experiencing faith-based misunderstanding as well as the power of interfaith work to address that. My parents were deeply involved in interfaith work in southern Indiana and Wisconsin and I see myself continuing in their footsteps. I believe in its ability to build bridges of understanding and friendship. There are misconceptions today about people of different faiths that disenfranchise people and hinder our society’s ability to progress as fellow human beings. The interfaith community has a critical role to play in breaking down barriers of misunderstanding to build bridges of understanding.
Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
She has been a practicing pagan for the past 25 years and currently works with two different circles in the Indianapolis area. She has led various groups of her own over the years. Though she currently does not have her own circle, she is a High Priestess of her Craft.
Ashley’s favorite quote or sacred text:
We don’t really have sacred texts, but there is a poem by Doreen Valiente called The Charge of the Goddess that is, I think, one of the most beautiful and important poems of Wicca, specifically. It never fails to inspire me.
Why does Interfaith matter to Arionne?
It is vitally important that we work within to build bridges and relationships across religious difference, and get to know people who believe differently than we do. It enriches our own sacred stories, strengthens the bonds of community, and elevates the character of our society.
Favorite quote (sacred text, story, poem, other):
i found god in myself & i loved her/i loved her fiercely –Ntozake Shange
Why Interfaith? Interfaith cooperation is a civic imperative, not just a religious interest, which is to say that nothing less than the very health of our communities depends in part on the depth and quality of relationships between people of different faiths as well as relationships between people of any faith and those of none.
Favorite quote (Sacred text, story, poem, other): There is more forgiveness in God than sin in us